More than 150 IS militants handed over to Iraq from Syria

Air strikes targeted Islamic State's last pocket in eastern Syria late on Tuesday as US -backed fighters pressed for a victory that would bring the jihadists' self-proclaimed caliphate to its bloody end.

The stalling tactics are likely to further delay a declaration of the end of Daesh's self-proclaimed "caliphate" that the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces were hoping to make last week.

Around 15 trucks carrying men, women and children exited the last patch of ISIS territory in eastern Syria, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP) correspondents.

Western-backed forces are preparing to evacuate civilians from the last Syrian town held by Islamic State as it nears collapse.

Hundreds of civilians, including men, women and children, left Baghouz on Wednesday, signalling a possible end to a standoff that has lasted for more than a week.

Mustafa Bali said if the remaining militants estimated to be around 300 surrendered, there would be no need for a fight.

Over 30,000 people who left the last IS-held areas have arrived at the al-Hol camp in Syria's northern Hassakeh province in the last few weeks, raising the overall population of the camp to nearly 42,000.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights cited its sources as saying the militants had agreed to surrender following extensive negotiations with SDF.

Both the SDF and United States officials have said the presence of civilians in Baghouz, targeted by air strikes again on Tuesday night, has slowed their advance.


Mustafa Bali, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces, the US -backed militia spearheading the fight against ISIS in Syria, confirmed the trucks were carrying civilians out of the enclave.

While many foreign fighters have laid down their arms, one group reportedly made a final stand in an orchard as the SDF closed in.

The International Rescue Committee said on Monday that 62 people, mostly children, had died on the way to the Al-Hol camp or shortly after arriving in past weeks.

Bracing for the worst, the SDF on Monday called for 1,000-1,500 worldwide forces to remain in Syria to ensure that ISIS' territorial defeat is lasting.

On Tuesday, February 19, the SDF said several ISIS fighters and dozens of civilians handed themselves over to the Kurdish-led force.

He urged the terrorists' home countries to do more to prosecute the jihadists and work to resettle their families back into society, "or else this will be a danger and a time bomb".

Near the border with Jordan, in the country's south, the Syrian government opened Tuesday two humanitarian passages with the assistance of Russian troops for people in a tent settlement who want to move to other parts of the country, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

They said the trucks carried hundreds of people, including some men. There are also dozens of women and children inside.


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